The Nigerian Navy and Tantita Security Services are currently engaging in a war of word over the allegation of a vessel carrying stolen crude oil which the Tantita Security Services supposedly intercepted in the Koko area of Delta State on Wednesday.
Tantita Security outfit is a private security company owned by Government Ekpemupolo, popularly called Tompolo, an ex-Niger Delta agitator who recently signed a contract with the Federal Government to protect oil pipelines.
The 1,117-tonne vessel purportedly intercepted was carrying about 8,100 barrels of crude, the security outfit said.
Operatives of the Tantita Security said the vessel, tagged MT Praisel, was flying a Togolese flag and was being escorted by a Navy boat led by a senior naval commander.
However, the Navy, in a statement Friday by its Director of Information, Commodore, AO Ayo-Vaughan, opposed the notion that the vessel was acting without authorisation.
“To put the record straight and avoid the misrepresentation of facts to unsuspecting members of the public as portrayed, MT PRAISEL was duly approved by Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) to load 1,114,721 Litres of High Pour Fuel Oil (HPFO) from Greenmac Energy Storage/Tarus Jetty Koko from 26 July – 8 August 2023,” the statement read.
“This has been substantiated by NMDPRA. In line with Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and to ensure strict compliance with the NMDPRA approval, NN personnel were deployed onboard to monitor the discharge of the product by MT PRAISEL at a facility at Bonny.”
According to the Navy, on August 2, 2023, TSSL claimed to act on intelligence and alleged that the vessel was laden with stolen crude oil.
The security outfit was said to have then approached an element of Operation DELTA SAFE to board the vessel in order to verify the allegedly stolen product.
“Accordingly, the NN directed the vessel to Forward Operating Base ESCRAVOS anchorage for further investigation of the product onboard,” the Navy noted.
“The samples of the product onboard MT PRAISEL were collected on Thursday 3 August 2023 by 5 agencies including NNPCL, NMDPRA and also TSSL in line with laid procedures for laboratory test and verification of the claim.”